I remember wearing my shoes down until the grip tape scraped my feet. We used all sorts of hacks to make skate shoes last longer. I remember cutting an old wetsuit and gluing a piece to my shoes, not ideal, but it worked to some extent. Skate shoes have evolved fortunately but they still wear down fast given the right conditions.
All shoes will suffer the same fate eventually. It doesn’t matter if it’s canvas, suede or high-quality leather. Eventually, your grip tape will destroy your shoes. There are a couple of ways to make your shoes last longer. Even if it’s just for a couple of weeks it could get you some time to save some money. Shoes and decks are probably the most expensive part about skateboarding, depending on how and how often you skate. You can make your skate shoes last longer by:
- Apply superglue to stitching areas where your deck’s grip tape is most likely to make contact.
- Use suede patches from old shoes to cover holes.
- Avoid using your feet to break.
- Apply Shoe Goo to cover holes and tears.
- Buy quality grip tape that isn’t too rough.
Some of the solutions have more to do with what to look for when buying shoes where others help you to fix your current shoes. It’s a matter of picking the right shoes, not all shoes are durable but I recently bought skate shoes that are amazing. They hold up great and provide great board feel. I got lucky and got grabbed them on sale. Check them out if you’re looking for solid shoes.
First, let’s see which areas are most likely to wear down the quickest.
1. Locate the areas likely to wear down
Depending on what type of skate you are there are a couple of areas on your skate shoes that wear down more quickly than others. If you heelflip more often than kickflip you need to take care of that area more than someone who only kickflips.
If you’re not ready for flips and are just practicing ollies, make sure you treat that area and patch when needed. The areas to look for are the side of your shoe where you ollie, under the ball of your foot where you rotate. The front of your foot where you kickflip and the collar side where you heelflip. lastly, your laces can rip. Consider reinforcing the following areas:
- Shoelace and their direct area.
- Toe boxes.
- Soles of your shoe.
- The padding areas around the heels.
- Heel area.
2. Apply glue to your stitches
Once you got a new pair or a pair that you haven’t skated on yet apply superglue to your shoe stitches. Only apply it to the areas where it’s more likely to make contact with your skateboard grip tape. It’s likely that you have to repeat this process occasionally but will prevent your shoes from tearing apart.
Keep in mind to only apply superglue to the stitches, using it to patch holes will make you lose grip on your deck. If you’re unsure just check your old shoes to see where to put the glue. Apply it to these areas:
- Your nose and toe area (kickflips)
- The side of your shoe (ollies)
- The collar of your shoe (heelflips)
3. Get suede shoes, avoid canvas
You’ll need a suede or leather shoe, at least the upper, heel, and nose area should consist of suede. Suede is recommended as it provides the most boardfeel where leather feels a bit stiffer. Buy from known skate brands, most of them have stronger stitching and take lace exposure into account. Some even buy shoes that have rubber toe caps but not everybody likes how they feel.
Look for brands like Vans, Emerica, Lakai, Etnies, DC, etc. Cupsoles usually last a bit longer but provide less board feel where vulcanized shoes provide more feel but degrade quicker. Vans has the pro series which deals with this problem, they’re expensive though.
Once you want to use them for skateboarding, apply Shoe Goo to your ollie, kickflip and or heelflip spots. Also apply the superglue to the stitching areas, at least where you most likely come into contact with your grip tape.
Material matters, suede and leather shoes last way longer than canvas. The grip tape destroys your skate shoes and suede lasts the longest. Even suede will wear down so think about reinforcing them.
Don’t buy canvas shoes if possible unless it’s summer and your feet to breathe a little. Canvas shoes can wear down in a day when you have new grip tape, only use them for cruising and longboarding. Leather can last for a while but only when it’s quality treated leather and has multiple layers.
4. Use Shoe Goo to patch holes
The most common way of fixing your shoes is by using glue. You can either use hot glue or shoe goo designed to fix skate shoes. It seems like a waste to apply this your new shoes but your shoes will last at least twice as long. I usually wear my skate shoes for a while before I skate on them. When I buy a new pair my old shoes are ready to be destroyed.
Once holes start to appear you can either hot glue them or use shoe Goo to patch them up. Shoe Goo hardens into a rubber layer once applied and will protect the shoe that’s covered by the glue. If you went all the way through, patch the inside of your shoe first with for example duct tape. Once you applied the tape you can start to apply a little bit of Shoe Goo or hot glue.
Squeeze out a little bit of glue (not too much) and make sure the hole is filled. If you have ice cubes, use them to spread out the glue. It will result in a flat smooth surface. Using your fingers will make them stick to the Shoo Goo and create uneven spots or bumps. Another benefit is that it will make the Goo dry up faster. Check this video to see how it’s done.
5. Use suede from old shoes or Tricktape
You can get adhesive suede patches like Tricktape and put them on your shoe. These patches will save you a lot of money and are easy to apply. Another option is to cut out some suede from your old shoes and use the patches to cover holes and tears by gluing them.
Save you from buying patches so don’t throw away your old shoes. Put ‘m in a plastic bag if they smell horrible if you have to. You can either wait for holes to appear or apply them preemptively. It doesn’t really matter. This is a method that I used when I was younger and it still works
6. Preventing skate shoe laces from ripping
Laces ripping is pretty common, although these those many brands take this into consideration. I always hated it when I tried to tie my laces and ended up holding it in my hand. You can either replace your laces or Shoe Goo them to stop them from falling apart.
You won’t be able to tighten or loosen them anymore so it’s still not ideal. Another way to deal with this is to get lace protectors. If you hardly ever rip your laces, you don’t really need them.
Hidden lace loops could help to prolong their lifespan for a while. It’s just a way of tying your laces in a different way to prevent them from coming into contact with your grip tape. It’s not a magic cure but it will help. You can try a variety of lacing methods over here to see what works for you. One more thing you can consider is to skip the bottom lace holes.
Look for skate shoes that have laces higher up the ankles or stock up on cheap laces or get leather laces that last longer. Others suggested coating your laces in rubber cement or buying waxed hockey laces.
The problem is that it’s really hard to prevent. If you do Caspers all do they’ll snap much sooner than when you only ollie. You can postpone ripping a little by applying some shoe goo at the corners though. My last tip is too sand down your grip tape a little when it’s brand new.
7. Create your own rubber toe cap using Plasti Dip
Plasti dip comes in a spray can and is a liquid that turns into rubber. The great things about this are that it penetrates your canvas or suede deeply and allows you to create multiple layers to fortify your shoes. Now, this requires a little bit more work than just applying glue bit it’s very durable.
The idea is to cover your shoes using tape and creating a mask to help you apply the spray. Rippedlaces wrote a detailed DIY guide on how to pull this off, unfortunately, their site is gone. This method works for both canvas and suede shoes and looks a lot better than those ugly patches or goo holes.
8. New grip? Sand it down
You got your new deck and grip are ready to shred the streets. The first thing you notice is your rough new grip, it makes me paranoid when I wear new shoes.
To be honest, grip tape is supposed to be grippy and will rip your shoes anyway but you can postpone it a little. Try to sand it down using some of the scraps of grip tape that you cut off. It will reduce friction and expand the life of your shoes. Next time just consider buying less grippy grip tape.
9. Get non-abrasive DKL grip tape
Grip tape plays a huge part in how fast you wear down your shoes, probably 99%. In order to get the most out of your shoes consider buying grip tape that is more forgiving. DKL grip tape, for example, won’t rip your skate shoes as fast as the cheap standard stuff. It’s non-abrasive and has tiny smooth bumps on the surface. You’ll be required to cut it before you sand down the edges instead of the other way around and then leave it alone for about one hour. The texture is pretty smooth so you might need to get used to it at first. It really helps but not everyone is a fan.
The biggest complaint is that it peels off very quickly and the rubbery material wears down quickly. This seems to have to do with sanding it down properly. If it peels off try to trim the edges and sand it again.
Another issue some people have with this grip tape is that it’s too grippy, making even basic tricks a lot harder. It basically means that when you try a kickflip it will fly out more because it sticks more to your front foot, making it more difficult to land.
This will become less of a problem after a few sessions though and will go away entirely eventually. So yeah, it will save your shoes from wear and tear but it comes at a couple of inconveniences at first which will go away after some time. Once you get used to it all your tricks will come back like and your shoes will hardly suffer. No need for Shoe Goo or gluing the stitches so definitely worth to try!
10. Stay away from hot glue
Avoid hot glue, especially on canvas. It will trigger a chemical reaction and will burn the material. This is not recommended for canvas shoes and I also wouldn’t apply it on suede or leather. Hot glue just falls apart quickly and makes it harder to repair your shoe again.
Bonus tip: Get long-lasting skate shoes
Like already mentioned quality matters. Cheap shoes will wear down faster (usually) and more sturdy shoes made of suede or leather last longer. If you have a pair that lasted for a long time consider buying them again. If you’re looking for the longest-lasting skate shoes consider DC Lynx. These shoes are designed to last and lived up to their reputation. DC is planning on bringing them back on the market so keep an eye out for them.
There are a couple of ways to keep your shoes from wearing out. Often you don’t think about it until holes and tears start to appear. The next time when you buy shoes think about what you need and you can prevent many problems beforehand. Glue the stitches, create your own rubber toe caps or get stock ones or patch areas preemptively.
How long skateboard shoes last depends on the roughness of your grip tape, how often you skate and what type of tricks you do. You can rip canvas shoes apart in an hour or suede shoes in a couple of weeks. There aren’t any shoes that don’t rip, but there are many ways to prevent them from ripping right away. Just make sure you take care of them by using the tips provided.
Now that you know how to make your shoes last longer, you might be interested in which skateboard deck lasts the longest. It could save you a lot of money if you break boards occasionally.